Hungary will hold a referendum on 2 October on EU plans to relocate migrants among member states, a scheme fiercely opposed by right-wing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, the president said today (5 July).
“As president of the republic, I decree that the referendum will be held on 2 October,” President János Áder said in a statement.
Orbán announced the referendum last February. Hungary’s Supreme Court gave the green light for holding the referendum last May, and what remained to be determined was the exact date.
Orbán’s government voted against the European Union’s plan to relocate 160,000 migrants around the 28-nation bloc via mandatory quotas but the scheme was approved by a majority of member states in September.
Joining Slovakia in filing a legal challenge against the plan, Orbán said earlier this year that the government would put the issue to a referendum.
Voters will be asked: “Do you want the EU to prescribe the mandatory relocation of non-Hungarian citizens to Hungary without the approval of the Hungarian parliament?”
Budapest says that the plan – which has been extremely slow to get going – violates its national sovereignty and that “terrorists” might enter the country disguised as migrants.
Orbán has said that Brussels has no right to “redraw Europe’s cultural and religious identity”.
Around 400,000 migrants and refugees passed through Hungary in 2015 before the government sealed off the southern borders with razor wire and fences in the autumn.
The authorities also brought in tough new laws punishing illegal entry and vandalism of the fences.